“Music is Freedom” declared the lead singer of H_ART the Band—as they opened up the first East African Students for Liberty Regional Conference at the Catholic University in Nairobi, Kenya—welcoming in the 476 students who came from across the continent to learn more about liberty and student activism.
The students came from countries such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, and even war torn South Sudan, eager to meet their Kenyan counterparts and learn how to expand the freedom movement across Africa.
Starting off strong, the talks commenced with the subject of entrepreneurship, with Mike Rotich of the East Africa Policy Centre and David Muumbi of the Kenya Youth Business Trust elaborating on how entrepreneurship can pave a stronger future for Africa and how the students could pursue entrepreneurship in their own lives.
This was followed by an open mic session where students already engaged in entrepreneurship were invited to share their experiences and to suggest what would be the most important political or social change to help entrepreneurs on the continent.
Over a dozen students eagerly told their stories, concluding with statements that what Africa needed most was “free trade” or “an end to corruption”.
In fact, there were so many in the audience that were already involved in businesses of their own that they had to limit the number that came up to speak. Apparently the students didn’t need to be told to become entrepreneurs, they were already taking action on their own!
Indeed, entrepreneurship was the predominant theme throughout the conference. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a single word said so many times in a single day before.Thus it was no surprise that the star speaker at the event was the multi-millionaire legendary Kenyan industrialist Manu Chandaria, who challenged the students to reach their full capacity through entrepreneurship and being self-starters.
Tom Palmer of the Atlas Economic Research Network also shared a powerful message about the “Value of Freedom” as a strong reminder of why liberty is such an essential cause to promote.Another impressive talk was given by Japheth Omojuwa, who is a perfect example of the fight for liberty in the digital age. The young Nigerian columnist, social media expert, and editor of AfricanLiberty.org has an online social media following of hundreds of thousands, through which he has gained the power to sway popular opinion.
While his supporters may be virtual they can have very real influence. When Omojuwa and his companions were arrested last month for participating in a protest, the news spread across the web immediately and the appeals of his followers led to their release after just a matter of hours.
Overall, what truly awed me about this event was the ambition and motivation of all the students with whom I spoke. So many were working on impressive businesses and projects to help those around them.
One Kenyan student named Abel Wamalwa, told me of the group he’d set up with a friend called the “Revolutionary Team”. This was designed to help mentor younger students in his community, who didn’t have college counselors or parents to help them in determining their future careers. They hold workshops to teach practical skills and go out to do community service projects to raise awareness of their group.Odunola Oladejo, a Nigerian student, shared with me her plans to start a free-market think tank for Women for Liberty. In the days prior to the conference, she had been a part of the Atlas Network’s Think Tank Start Up training programme, giving her a strong start on this path. Be sure to look out for this bright young lady in coming years!
This event and the students involved in it were truly inspiring and I look forward to witnessing great progress both in terms of individual businesses and the expansion of individual liberties in Africa.
My sincere thanks to Olumayowa Okediran, Alex Njeru, Emeka Ezeugo, Linda Kiguhi, Isack Danford, and Kasmil Gago for your excellent organization and for inviting me to speak at this remarkable event.
“The Cheetah Generation is the new and angry generation of Africans who can see that their leadership have failed them… you may call them the restless generation. They’re not going to sit there and wait for governments to come and do things for them. As a matter of fact, they’re not going to sit there and beg for foreign aid, because they can see that every social need in Africa is a business opportunity. The Cheetah Generation is entrepreneurial. So they are going to get off and take their own initiative to solve problems in Africa. Africa’s salvation and Africa’s future rests on the backs of this Cheetah Generation.” —George Ayittey